Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol is a serious crime that could be punishable by a fine, jail time and loss of driving privileges. If you are convicted of a second DUI, it may increase the offense from a misdemeanor to a felony if the second offense occurs within 10 years of the first conviction. How can an attorney help you avoid some or all of those penalties?
An Overview of Possible Penalties
Those who are convicted of a second DUI in the state of New York could face at least five days in jail or 30 days of community service. However, it is possible to spend up to four years in jail, and a second conviction within five years could bring a jail term of at least one year. In addition, a driver may face a fine of at least $1,000 and up to $5,000. An interlock device may need to be installed in a driver’s car, and he or she could have his or her license revoked for up to 18 months.
How An Attorney Can Help
An attorney may be able to help a driver charged with a second DUI in a variety of ways. First, he or she may be able to question whether there was probable cause to conduct the traffic stop that led to an individual being taken into custody. Absent probable cause, an officer cannot stop a vehicle or take a driver into custody even if that driver was drunk or impaired when that officer makes first contact.
It may also be possible to dispute any physical evidence or witness testimony against a driver. For instance, it may be possible to prove that a driver’s blood alcohol content was below the legal limit or that a result above the limit is suspect because the test was taken incorrectly. If an officer testifies in a DUI case, it may be possible to cast doubt on his or her story by pointing out inconsistencies between the testimony and the original police report.
A Plea Agreement May Be Possible
In any criminal case, a plea agreement may be reached that could reduce some or all penalties a driver may face. Plea agreements are more likely in cases where evidence may be circumstantial at best or if the driver is remorseful. They are also likely in cases where there is no aggravating offense such as hitting or killing a person while driving drunk or driving with a BAC of more than .10 percent.
In some cases, you may be able to do community service or take traffic school in lieu of jail or probation. It may also be possible to enter into a rehab program after which you would see some or all of your charges dropped. Alternatively, you may be granted a limited license to go to work or school provided that you don’t drink alcohol and comply with other requirements of the court.
If you have been charged with a DUI, it is imperative that you talk to an attorney immediately. It may be possible to get a case thrown out before trial or win a full acquittal by a jury of your peers. Assuming that the case is resolved in your favor, it may be possible to have the charge sealed, which means employers and others will have limited access to your criminal record.